Thames and London Waterways Forum

The Thames and London Waterways Forum is a partnership group that coordinates strategy and activities on the Thames and London’s waterways.

Forum members work together to develop and implement relevant policies as set out in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, London Environment Strategy, London Plan and the Culture Strategy. The Forum also supports aspects of the Port of London Authority’s ‘Vision for the Tidal Thames 2035’ which outlines long-term priorities for the Thames.

Structure of the forum

The Thames and London Waterways Forum was set up by the Mayor to promote the river Thames and London’s canals and other waterways. It replaces the River Concordat and the London Waterways Commission, bringing together all stakeholders to advise the Mayor on river and waterway issues.

The Forum is led by a steering group chaired by the Deputy Mayor for Transport.

The detailed work of the Forum is led by three working groups that promote the use of waterways for sustainable growth in:

  1. Passenger transport
  2. Freight and development – freight transport and more generally using land areas near and next to the water in different ways when planning development
  3. People and places – sport, recreation and culture

We hold an annual forum every September to discuss key achievements and progress. The event ties into the Totally Thames festival.

Passenger transport

The passenger transport working group chaired by TfL is responsible for identifying opportunities to make best use of the river for passenger travel (reaching 20 million annual trips by 2035). The group builds on successful developments encouraged more travel by river by:

  • prioritising the development of accessible piers and river services
  • focusing on river tourism
  • improving the role of river services in supporting growth areas particularly in east London.

One of the first tasks will be the publication of a Pier Strategy as outlined in the Mayor's draft Transport Strategy.

Freight and development

The freight and development working group chaired by GLA Planning is responsible for planning development in areas around where the water and land meet, encouraging new ways to use and protect the waterways. The group also considers opportunities to increase the levels of safe, efficient and sustainable waterborne freight across different cargoes and the facilities in developments needed for that, including safeguarded wharves.

The group will prioritise a number of key themes including:

  • urban logistics
  • developments appropriate to the water space
  • addressing demand for moorings

The first tasks will include the consideration of the waterways policies of the draft London Plan and the new draft review of safeguarded wharves.

People and places

The people and places working group chaired by the PLA is responsible for boosting participation in activities on the river and London’s waterways. The group prioritises:

  • growing sports
  • leisure and recreation on the waterways for all Londoners
  • culture
  • promoting the Thames Path
  • engaging schools and communities
  • safety and security on London’s waterways


Agenda, presentations and meeting notes can be viewed below:


Annual Forum 2018


​​​​​Passenger Transport Working Group

Freight and Development Working Group

People and Places Working Group

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